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How to be legally compliant on social media

Yesterday morning. the Prohibition team jointly organised a successful breakfast seminar exploring the important issue of legal compliance in social media.

Held in conjunction with leading Intellectual Property law firm, HGF, the central-Leeds seminar was attended by 50 marketing and legal professionals from across the region.

HGF 1Social media undoubtedly provides brands with fantastic opportunities to promote themselves and powerfully engage directly with their customers and stakeholders, as many well-publicised cases show. However, social media can also be a huge trap for those unaware of the potential legal consequences.

The increasingly blurred boundaries between professional and private social media use can pose challenges for organisations, as employees unwittingly go “off message” in their personal social media networks.

These issues were explored in two short, but lively sessions, from Anthony Gold, Partner at HGF, and Chris Norton, Managing Director of Prohibition, as both talked through the challenges, opportunities and risks for brands seeking to expand their use of social media, whilst also discussing some of the key tools for success in this area.

The event was the latest in a series of seminars from Prohibition, exploring all aspects of social media best-practice. Our next events cover online crisis management, and take place at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Ramside Hall in Durham.

Top Tips for a successful Work Experience in Public Relations.

Don’t be afraid the agency is not as scary as the name may seem, except Chris Norton, watch out for him!

I had no idea, clue, understanding, gist or hint about Public Relations, the term I like to use for myself in a situation like this is ‘I am a blank canvas’ meaning I have no knowledge but I’m ready to learn and ready to work, so throw all the paint you can on me.  Working for 3 months at Prohibition PR, I can now officially say I have knowledge and understanding about Public Relations and its relative Social Media. So here is an abundance of tips that I have learnt from working at Prohibition PR;

First and foremost to succeed in PR you need to have excellent written and verbal communication skills, practice of these abilities can lead to someone having journalistic and negotiation skills, all of which are the bases or foundation of an industry, they are not just needed in Public Relations and Social Media but business and employment in general.

Ask questions, we are all taught from a very young age to put our hand up to ask a question but for some reason we get to an age (which I think is around high school), where we feel as though it’s not necessary or it’s not ‘cool’ to ask a question, however when we do reach adulthood that confidence of asking a question isn’t there, but if you want an answer, ask a question. In Public Relations, working as an intern, to really understand the business you need to be able to confidently ask questions.

‘Be on your toes’ some would say. PR is a business where people need to be quick thinking, they need to have the ability to produce ideas and generate these ideas at a fast pace because the industry is fast-moving, the industry isn’t for the swift. Public Relations is competitive, savvy thinking and catchy titles with the aim to have top link on a search engine such as; Google gains more exposure, this results in an increase in recognition and profit for a client and the PR agency.

Thoroughly do your homework, before you even step into a Public Relations firm, buy this book, The Social Media Handbook for PR and this will get you ahead of the game and ahead of second year university students studying PR. Get a real understanding of Public Relations before even applying to work in a PR firm.

Understand the importance of clients in PR. Clients is what drives a Public Relations agency as a business in general, PR is the state of a relationship between the public and a company other organisation or famous person. Clients are the core of PR, the importance of brands or clients is as important as the strings on a guitar for a guitarist; an arms-length relationship with a client is not going to harvest effective long-term results and draw other clients to the agency.

‘The power of social media’. In this day and age Social Media and Public Relations go hand in hand. As a young adult living in 2013, I know how important Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are to the young generation however it wasn’t until I started working at Prohibition PR that I understood the engagement between PR and Social Media and how this relationship best serves brands and clients. I learnt that Social Media is a powerful tool, not only for PR but for many industries in general, one being the music industry, working at Prohibition PR I created a blog post about the effects that Social Media has on the Music Industry, which ended up being posted on the official CIPR website (15 minutes of fame), from this I discovered the effects, the pros and the cons of Social Media on the music industry and the mass integration of economic, business, social and political industries on social media.

Grasp the technique of how to write a good blog post. Understand the language and distinguish between the types of languages such as; reporting like a journalist and advertising like an advertiser.  Develop or have a good eye for a story and understand the nature of the PR agency you’re working for and what stories are best suited to them, once this is understand learn to develop the ability to craft content, and write in a way that brands, future clients or the public might be attracted to.

One thing I learnt overall from the work experience that I have done over the years and was reinforced by Prohibition PR was that you should take correction and because it leads to direction, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes as an intern or on work experience, see it as a trial run and a place where making mistakes is allowed because no business or agency would take anyone on if making mistakes wasn’t allowed. I had no idea about Public Relations or this sector of media, so Prohibition PR but a foot in the door and allowed me to hop on the train of PR and develop an understanding. I decided to voluntarily work for Prohibition PR because there’s an abundance of knowledge to gain, and I understood or understand how valuable work experience is not only for me and the agency but for applying to university. Working at Prohibition PR on my gap year possibly gave me a hand up or put me at an advantage when I applied to universities, because universities see work experience as vital attribute to a student. It may have been pot luck that Prohibition PR took me on even though I had no experience in PR; however I took the bull by its horn, and just dived in with the attitude to learn and the interest in the business which employers in general want to see.

Voluntary work experience in PR builds character and confidence due to the office type of language and banter, its preparation for the big adult workplace. I will now see how working in the workplace and working at university will be two very different things. ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, I did not know anyone in Public Relations, so to what extent or what industry is this quote true? Create a catchy CV and covering letter that thoroughly and sincerely shows off your personality, experiences and skills which also reinforces your ability and interest in PR and social media because this may catch the eye of an employer. I also Google mapped all the PR agencies in Leeds to see how long my journey will be to each agency.

Quick Tips for Working at Prohibition PR

  1. Be prepared to bring a laptop.
  2. Get involved in the office language and friendly banter.
  3. Be prepared to make tea and coffee, however after an embarrassing cup of coffee that I personally made I never had to make one again.
  4. Understand that hard-work is at the centre of this agency and they consider the relationship between them and the client to be very valuable.
  5. Come with the attitude that Prohibition is a great place to work because it
  6. Understand that working for this agency does not just gain an excellent reference but in my experience it gains friendship.Always bring a great lunch, they admire that.

Overall my verdict on work experience is, gain as much as you can. A months work experience is better than 2 weeks’ worth of work experience because you get a real understanding of the business you are working for and the working environment in general.

Football Flick – Video Seeding Campaign

Over the last couple of years we have been working closely with a number of the best marketing agencies in the country to help them seed their viral campaigns on the web whether that is news, video, apps or even music. It’s the best part of the job and we get to play with some amazing content and stunning videos from all kinds of different sectors and as long as the content is good we are happy to help.

The video we are working on this week comes from our good friends at The Lift Agency and is for a new product called Football Flick Urban. The Football Flick Urban is a three Dimensional multi user football skills trainer, which consists of a front curved ramp, a back ramp and a net in the middle. Each of the three elements of the Football Flick can be used to help train and develop skills used in football.

The video has been created by Lift to generate some real excitement around this useful new soccer training aid. It showcases just what can be done with the unit by players of any ability and what’s more that it can be used anywhere, reinforcing the brand’s strapline… Play Anywhere. It also features the talents of John Farnworth. John is 26 and from Longridge in Lancaster and he holds four Guinness World Records including the most around the worlds in under a minute. In the video, John shows off his skills as a football freestyler and all that the Football Flick Urban has to offer.

Having only been in circulation around 24 hours, the video is already proving to be a big hit. You can see it yourself below:

Prohibition PR Helps Set Up Online Student Magazine – Student Wire

Over the last few months the Prohibition PR team have been working hard to help launch a new online student magazine – Student Wire. The idea was to create a website specifically for students, written by students about being a student!

Our client The Student Store wanted specialist help to create a thriving online community. So we scoped the project out and looked at how we could create something which would help other students out, give advice and provide some great content that was relevant to the audience.

Prior to the launch of the project the team put together a number of focus groups from local universities to bring together thoughts and ideas of what they would like to read.

Emilie Sillett, a second year public relations undergraduate and current intern here at Prohibition HQ was made editor of the magazine due to her rather bubbly personality and passion for creative writing. She was then also asked to help recruit a team of budding journalists and creative writers to help her create a magazine with a difference.

To help increase awareness and garner interest, the magazine was seeded online throughStudent Wire social media and student forums, getting as many people as possible to check it out and create a buzz around the launch of the site. After just four weeks Student Wire is already a huge success and a hit with under graduates from universities all over the UK.

So far it has writers from Leeds Metropolitan University, Liverpool John Moore’s, University of Salford and London Metropolitan providing advice, news and ideas on anything from how to choose your student accommodation through to how to cure a hangover.

Emilie is always looking for interesting features and creative writers so drop her an email if you think you are cut out for the job contact@studentwire.co.uk.

For an idea of some of the topics the team write about at Student Wire, check out some of the favourite posts so far:

1. The Student Halls Lottery by Sarah Raynard

2. Clubbing.. Why bother? by editor, Emilie Sillett

3. Celebrities And Their Surprising, Unrelated Degrees by Amanda Champion

4. And have a look at my own article, Technology That Will Make Life Easier.

And finally, the sponsors of Student Wire – the Student Store – has recently launched a photo competition of ‘the work space from hell’.  Be it your messy student house, your dirty desk or your rotten bedroom we want to see. The winner will be determined by public vote via the Student Wire Facebook page – so be creative as possible and you could be in with a chance £100 shopping voucher and the Adobe Creative Cloud software up for grabs! Apply here.

This was a guest article from Laura Crossley.

Violation of Google’s Guidelines Will Result in Damaged PageRank

Google’s latest announcement has made it official that selling page links and including paid-for placements on your blog can and will damage your PageRank. In the announcement Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam stated that ‘selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.’ Such action has been taken out recently on the florist giant Interflora for breaking Search Engine Optimisation guidelines by manipulating links to improve its PageRank. Penalisation of Interflora is the latest proof that even the largest brands are not immune to Google’s rules and regulations. Currently as punishment Interflora doesn’t show up on Google for the majority of it’s search terms, a huge disaster for the brand with Mother’s Day fast approaching. The highest Interflora appeared was on page 2 of a Google search, but mainly Interflora was non-existent. The damages to the brand could value at millions worth of pounds. Matt Cutts has also posted on his own personal blog about PageRank penalties and selling links. Replying to the frequently asked question of ‘Why has my PageRank gone down?’ Matt answered ‘the drop in Toolbar PageRank is an indicator of the decrease in our trust of the site.’ Google isn’t against paid advertisements, it actually supports the practise but they are asking for such links to be disclosed to search engines.  Sites should be judged on their content and influence for SEO not their bank account. What does this mean for PR? Whilst it will upset many people, Google’s announcement will help to ensure that online public relations prioritises quality content over simple and easy paid-for placements and links. Therefore Google is helping to ensure that public relations online is practised ethically. Blogging is a way of using your online freedom to express your opinion and interests, add value and engage in discussions. Blogging on your personal blog, on behalf of a company, just because they are paying you an attractive sum, I believe, totally defeats the object of blogging in the first place. Don’t get me wrong advertorials (which have been around for decades in PR) and articles that clearly show they are being sponsored to review a product are still effective ways to position a brand. It’s the articles that have been paid for that include brand names and links to a website that don’t make it totally clear that are misleading. What do you think? This is a guest post from Lara Busch you can follow her on Twitter.

The 10 Best April Fools Stunts

Google
Regular pranksters Google certainly did not disappoint this year! Now I could probably write a whole post purely on Google’s April Fools stunts from yesterday, but I’ll cut to the chase:

Google Nose: First up is Google Nose, as its name implies, the service lets you search to find out what your queries smell like. You make think that only an idiot would believe it, but after reading some long technical words, many of us must have pulled our screens a little closer and had a sniff!

Google Maps Treasure Mode: Google created a treasure map mode on Google Maps along with a video announcement telling us that the ‘Google Maps Street View team’ have found a treasure map belonging to an infamous pirate. They said the map contains a variety of encrypted symbols which you are tasked with decoding.

Gmail Blue: This one is said to be a dig at Microsoft’s future Windows 8 revamp, also to be named Blue. Google created an almost two minute long video explaining the new technology that is going into their new Gmail design, only to find out at the end, that they just coloured everything blue!

Google seemed to have a bottom-less budget in their marketing and PR department this year. They also made up pranks with Google+, Australian Google Street View, Google Enterprise and…

…YouTube
YouTube took to their blog and posted a video to tell us that their site was set up merely as a way to find the best online video in the world. The video claimed that they had enough footage to end the competition and close down the page.

Bing
If you happened to be on Bing.com yesterday (which I’m sure you didn’t), you would have got a shock. The site completely changed how it looked if you typed “google” in the rival search engine. It was still regular Bing under the surface but the layout was a copy of Google’s. And just for an extra dig, you could either press the “Search” or the hilarious “I’m Feeling Confused” button instead.

Twitter
Yesterday morning Twitter announced it will no longer allow the use of vowels in tweets. The social networking site said that by eliminating vowels, they are helping tweeters to a “more efficient, and ‘dense’ form of communication.” And if you really can’t live in a world without vowels, Twttr (as it renamed itself) will allow you to tweet A, E, I, O and U for the small fee of $5 a month.

Sony Animalia
Sony had us all laughing with a video telling us they are releasing a new “Animalia” line of products for your tech product-starved pets. Because apparently your hamsters needs a good beat whilst on their exercise wheels and your cat would love some headphones to block humans out!

Virgin Atlantic Glass Bottom Plane
The folks at Virgin Atlantic Airways can never pass up an April Fools. This year they took to Richard Branson’s blog to reveal a glass-bottom airplane supposedly made so we can “appreciate the beauty of the British landscape” whilst flying!

BMW Pram
BMW unveiled a new product yesterday, a pram! Or should I say ‘the limited edition BMW P.R.A.M. (Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile).’  Available in Princess Pink or Royal Blue, the soft-top convertible has been designed especially for the arrival of the new Royal baby.

The Metro
I won’t deny it, this April fool even got me! The Metro published a roundup of stunts from yesterday such as The Sun joking that the Angel of the North will be renamed ‘Cheryl Cole’ and the Guardian trying to fool us that scientist have bred rabbits with human ears. Only when you get to the end do you realise they were all completely made up!

Sacla Italia
Italian food brand Sacla added a touch of tech to its April Fool’s joke with the announcement of its latest product, ‘Twitteroni pasta – Eat what you tweet’. Rather like tinned alphabet spaghetti, Twitteroni pasta is shaped into letters, but also includes hash tags and the @ symbol.

The Huffington Post
The latest addition to the London skyline became the world’s best thrill-ride according to The Huffington Post yesterday when they unveiled ‘The Shlide’ – the helter-skelter style slide around Europe’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard.

 

What was your favourite April fool’s stunt from yesterday? Is there anything I’ve missed?

Why branding yourself properly is key to getting a job in PR

With the boundaries between private and public becoming ever more unclear these days, it is essential that you represent yourself properly on all the different social media channels. It is quite shocking to see that, even in the present day, with social media having been around for a number of years people are still unaware of the damage that their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare or Pinterest accounts can do to their aspirations for getting that dream job in PR.

I realise it is quite obvious that uploading drunken pictures, writing rude posts and posting provocative material on your page is a sure fire way to ensure you will be going nowhere in the industry because, after all, if you cannot show yourself in a good light, then why would PR companies trust you to represent them?

clip_image002Valerie Forrestal from slideshare has discussed in a slideshow how the wrong material can jeopardise your chances of scooping a job. Using examples, such as the woman who was denied acceptance onto a degree course due to drunken images on her Facebook page, she has highlighted the pitfalls of not branding yourself properly.

Companies in all industries want respectable employees that they can trust. In the US, businesses have even taken the drastic step of asking applicants for their Facebook login details, so they can run the rule over them to ensure that potential employees are suitable.

Whilst this may be seen as over the top to some, really it is a logical step. If companies cannot access your private account, then is there something for you to hide?

The LA Times previously talked about how important it is to represent yourself properly in today’s social media-driven society, highlighting the need to “be sure your profile is cleaned up so it won’t put off any potential employers.”

Obviously, the more personal sites such as Facebook do not have to be covered in boring material. But to talk about how stoned or drunk you got last Saturday is certainly not going to endear yourself to your future employer.

Everyone is aware how powerful social media is in today’s society but, unbelievably, many are still not taking the necessary steps to represent themselves properly, which is harming their chances of progressing into professional employment.

It is only simple steps that have to be taken to ensure your social media channels are not your downfall.

Have you seen any interesting examples of people not representing themselves properly on their social media? If you have share them with us in the comments.

The top five Valentines’ PR and social stunts

It’s almost that time of the year again which most of us dread. Red roses and pink love hearts smeared over every shop, no chance of table reservations and a depressing 24-hours for all singletons – its Valentine’s Day. But love it or hate it, it’s a great time for PR stunts and campaigns and here are five of my favourites from recent times:

1. #TweetHeart

These days it seems that social networking is the most popular way to channel our love and emotions and companies have been using this to their full advantage this Valentine’s day. A popular online blog – Not on the High Street – came up with the idea of offering a very unique and personal gift this February 14th. They have created a competition in which contestants must tweet a special message stating why they love their valentine and including the link, #TweetHeart. The top 10 tweets will be turned into a love song, performed and recorded by a band called ‘The Coopers’ and posted online for their partner to see. You can read more about it here.

2. ‘The Twosie’

Asda's twosie as seen on their websiteSupermarket chain Asda did a brilliant job of getting plenty of pre-valentine’s day media coverage, by introducing The Twosie. After a survey on Facebook told them that most couples would be staying in this Valentine’s day (and after the onesie trend still doing so well) George at Asda decided to do the obvious, stick two onesies together, and produce the twosie, before posting it on their website.

A soft fleecy double poncho with bunny design hoods and ears, embroidered faces and ‘Love Bunnies’ print on the back and for just £25, it sold out in record time.

3. Love Advice from Britain’s Oldest Couple

Last year, Britain’s oldest couple took to twitter and dished out love and relationship advice to the public. Lionel and Ellen Buxton, who will be celebrating 77 years of marriage this summer, tweeted on behalf of a wedding video company, called Shoot it Yourself. Although they haven’t tweeted since, their messages can still be seen on their twitter page @lionelandellen.

This resulted in some very interesting tweets, and gained some great coverage from newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Sun.

4. Flaming Grill Facebook Date

This Valentine’s day, Flaming Grill Pubs are playing match maker. It has launched a campaign in order to increase activity of its Facebook page. Basically, you must join the page and choose a date from your Facebook friends. You are then in with a chance to win a meal for two with a bottle of wine thrown in!

A simple idea which will be no doubt rather popular with the men!

5. A Sex Guarantee

A Scottish clothes retailer named Foul Fashion is offering shoppers a ‘sex guarantee’. It will give its customers a full refund this month if its unusually colourful shirts don’t attract the opposite sex.

It may be slightly sleazy, but is certain to turn heads. The stunt has already been covered by multiple newspapers and PR websites, appeared on This Morning and created a hell of a lot of activity on Twitter.

Have I missed anything? Do you have any favourite PR stunts for Valentine’s Day to share?

This is a guest post from Laura Crossley who will be joining the Prohibition team in a couple of weeks.

Top Tips for getting a job in a Leeds PR Agency

For many, starting a career in Public Relations is not easy. But just how do you go about getting into the industry? Well, there are several interesting aspects to consider:

1) A degree is not always essential. Whilst many go to University and get a degree in PR, communications or English before looking for work, it is not the be all and end all. The Public Relations apprenticeship scheme run in association with the PRCA helps young people gain the necessary experience as well as qualifications

Apprentices are appealing because they receive practical experience and they get to truly know what it is like to work in the industry at a younger age. Unlike many university graduates that will be 21ish by the age of 20 they will have worked in the industry two or three years.

2) Experience is key. Companies/agencies are unlikely to take on a new member if they have not gained some sort of experience in the industry before looking for employment. Whilst some university courses have work placements as part of the course, actually seeking experience independently will help you see what the industry is like. Taking on interns regularly ourselves, we notice a huge difference in how much more developed people are once they have worked in the industry for just a number of months.

As Pressat has previously stated on its website, “it would be a good idea to get some work experience or carry out a placement with a local PR company.” Because PR is such a competitive industry, this will make you stand out from the crowd.

3) Knowledge of the industry is essential. You will not last very long if you are not up to date with what is happening in an ever-changing industry like PR, so it is essential that you read relevant material. Aside from helping you understand your work, it will also give you fresh inspiration and ideas.

As Jon Gloyne, an experienced PR professional, has stated for an article in The Guardian, “It’s essential to keep up to date with industry news and trends, so make sure you read from sites such as PR Week and Campaign.”

4) Network. In order to get started, it is essential to build up your contacts. Being prominent on all social media websites, not just Facebook and Twitter, will help you to increase your standing. Setting up a LinkedIn account, for example, is essential when going into any profession, not just PR.

As has been written on PRmeetsmarketing.com, “Creating a profile on LinkedIn is a must alongside a traditional resume.” It’s not always what you know, but sometimes WHO you know has a major impact on getting a foot on the ladder.

5) PR Yourself. If you stand out, then you are more likely to get somewhere when looking for a job. As PR is all about “Pray for play,” you need to be able to generate interest in yourself in order to prove you have got what it takes to work in the industry.

The best candidates for positions in agencies are those that are able to make themselves stand out and look different and can market themselves effectively. Our MD Chris Norton is currently lecturing at Leeds Metropolitan University on the PR degree and one of his classes is solely dedicated to helping the undergraduates learning how to market themselves and present themselves better to employers. I know he was happy to help with this because we get so many applications ourselves and some are great and some are terrible.

We have discussed the importance of representing yourself effectively before. What are your experiences of finding work in the industry? Is it more difficult than you had imagined?

Do you have any tips you can share for everyone else?

App or crap? Our Pinterest Competition.

We have been busy in the office this week – check out our new shiny social wall courtesy of the inimitable Sally Cossins.App or Crap? #apporcrap

So to celebrate our work and following the kindness of one of our lovely clients Audio Technica, we’re able to offer one of you lucky people the chance to win a fabulous pair of ATH-CKS55 In-Ear Headphones, worth £45! They offer outstanding noise quality and cutting edge bass and even come with a pouch so they don’t get tangled up in your pocket when you are out and about.

We wanted to poke a little fun at the social media marketers world and so all we want you to do to win is come up with an amusing and unique name for your latest imaginary social media channel. We all know they have daft names that mean nothing (FaceTube) so we thought we might as well create a few funny ones ourselves and have some fun with it.

So, imagine you were thinking of inventing the next Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube or Skype, what would you call it and what would it mean?

We have had a think about this and we would call ours BuzzClunge Beta (we have copyrighted this – so be careful using it lol). We are looking for funny and creative ones but if you are stuck for a good idea you can always try a tool like this to generate your app name although I think you can do better than them.

To enter, just for fun, or to be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is re-pin our pin on the above image on your own Pinterest account, including the name of your new channel in the description box and use the #apporcrap hashtag.

The winner will be selected on Monday 25th March by us and announced here on the Prohibition PR blog. Our decision is final and all that jazz.

Enjoy!!!